OPINION: Atlantic City Casino Strike Must Be Avoided At All Costs
It is in everyone’s best interest for the city’s nine gambling parlors to come to a reasonable agreement with the gaming industry’s largest labor union, UNITE HERE Local 54.
The union’s members are preparing to strike at four Atlantic City casinos tomorrow and a fifth on Sunday. Their most recent contract expired June 1.
Majority of AC casinos still rebounding from pandemic shutdown
Local 54 members are demanding more money, and rightfully so.
Many worked throughout the height of the pandemic, putting the health and safety of themselves and their families at risk for a paycheck. Others were left in workplace limbo, forced to survive on financial scraps and charity, as the NJ casino industry limped toward recovery.
And, despite what others may say, the majority of Atlantic City casinos have not fully rebounded from COVID-19. Six casinos are routinely reporting monthly gambling revenue below pre-pandemic levels. Recent quarterly profit reports showing industry gains are the result of cost-cutting measures, and nothing more.
Those facts, which local and regional media outlets continue to ignore, are why these negotiations have gone on as long as they have.
But, with all due respect to the corporate suits who oversee the casinos, the “low-level” workers are the backbone of the billion-dollar industry. Conversely, not a single guest would notice — or care — if every C-suite executive in Atlantic City went on an extended leave.
Local 54 represents just under half of the city’s 23,000 casino employees, including housekeepers, bartenders, cocktail servers, doormen and bellhops. The entire casino resort experience in Atlantic City falls apart without them.
Make no mistake: no one wins if the workers strike. Casino operators, workers, visitors and local businesses all lose if Local 54 strikes.
Even if the union’s actions are successful, a strike would just be another black eye for a city that has taken more body blows and kicks to the face than most could endure.
A labor strike just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend is the absolute last thing Atlantic City needs right now. It cannot be permitted to happen.
The clock is ticking.